Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Trouble in Worker's Paradise

"Wal-Mart is also the most-sued corporation in America and has been found guilty of an array of offenses including compelling employees to continue working after clocking out, encroaching on employees' lunch hours, and hiring undocumented workers through surrogate companies. They currently are engaged in the largest class action law suit in the nation's history for discriminating against female workers."
- Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development Press Release, January 12, 2006

Over the last few months, PARD members TV Reed, Janet Damm, and Chris Lupke have extolled the virtues of the modern day big-box workers's paradise, Costco. One argument that PARD has consistently used is that Wal-Mart discriminates against women, as demonstrated by a recent class-action lawsuit.

Uh oh. Instant karma's gonna get you.

According to an article in the September 8, 2006 Seattle P-I:
Costco Wholesale Corp. ignored internal warnings that female workers couldn't get promoted, and Chief Executive Jim Sinegal opposed recommendations to post notices for all management positions, employees suing the company claim.

Court filings in a gender bias case against Costco show that members of a 2001 team investigating workplace barriers for women and minorities said company practices "allow for favoritism and individual biases" in promotions. The team recommended posting all management jobs. Costco didn't follow the suggestion, John Matthews, vice president of human resources, testified in a March 2006 deposition, the Aug. 28 filings show.

The workers' lawyers said the filings bolster their claims that there was a pattern of discrimination against women at Costco.They are asking a federal judge to expand the case to cover as many as 700 workers. Costco has denied that it discriminates. The company's response to the 2001 internal recommendations could put Costco at risk for punitive damages.

"They're vulnerable to the argument that the red flags were raised and they ignored them," said Cyrus Mehri, who represents workers in lawsuits and isn't involved in the Costco litigation. "This shows reckless indifference to the rights of workers."


In the lawsuit, filed in 2004 by one current and two former Costco employees, workers claim women are prevented from applying for higher-paying management positions because the company doesn't post or advertise positions when they become available. The suit is seeking back pay, future pay and punitive damages for up to 700 employees and a court order to change the policy.


"Costco has become enamored of its own reputation as a good employer, and they've allowed this very serious problem to develop," said Brad Seligman, a lawyer representing Costco workers.

Costco has about 78,000 U.S. employees; about half are women. Only one in six senior managers is a woman, the lawsuit says. Women held 16.6 percent of assistant manager and 12.9 percent of manager jobs from 1999 through 2004, below the 34.1 percent benchmark rate for other retail companies, the lawsuit claims.

Sinegal said that fewer women were in the higher level positions because of their own preference for family-friendly hours. "Our experience is that the women have a tendency to be the caretakers and have the responsibility for the children and for the family," he said in an April 2006 deposition.
Can you imagine the howls from the Left if Lee Scott said that women weren't managers at Wal-Mart because they tended to be caretakers and had responsibility for children? He would have been publicaly crucified like former Harvard president Lawrence Summers.

Perhaps TV Reed and Company will realize now that NO company is perfect and that ALL are subject to lawsuits, frivilous or otherwise. Then again, monkeys may fly out of my butt.

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1 comment:

Paul E. Zimmerman said...

Perhaps TV Reed and Company will realize now that NO company is perfect and that ALL are subject to lawsuits, frivilous or otherwise. Then again, monkeys may fly out of my butt.

Party on, Wayne!

I think this might fall under an argumentative fallacy that I proposed once, something I like to call the fallacy of the impossible standard. Most people just call it nitpicking though.

On the other hand, we can just write this one off right after "Walmart is the most sued corporation in America."

Anyone can file a lawsuit for any number of things - so what? I could be the most sued man in America if I piss off enough loons; it doesn't follow that I'm actually guilty of anything.

Let's rename this crowd the "straw party," as in grasping at them.